In the past decade or so, England and Australia were the first countries whose established and upstart distributors discovered the power of the purse of older audiences when a movie addressed their fifty-plus, sixty-plus interests. Genteel stories with the peers and contemporaries of the likes of Dame Maggie Smith; “blue rinse pictures,” as some British wag labeled them. Older audiences have disposable income, will watch movies in the second or third or fourth week, instead of clamoring for a movie’s opening weekend, and, a more recent factor, aren’t a crowd brought up to steal movies via online piracy. (They’re also old enough to instinctively savor the simple, elegant joy of getting out of the house, if only via decades of custom.) Paolo Virzì’s “The Leisure Seeker” is a decent sample of a charm-choked picture aimed squarely at that audience, with Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as a couple, still loving, still contentious, who board their rickety 1975 Winnebago Indian RV, “The Leisure Seeker” and pilot the modest monster down Route 1 from their suburban Massachusetts home to the Hemingway Home in Key West. Do they have anything more to learn about each other? (We’ve got 112 minutes to find out!) Virzì cites the movies of Altman, Scorsese, Ritt and Ashby as primary touchstones, and the roadside encounters with other characters rise to approach those influences. (As an Italian filmmaker, he also name-checks Forman, Wenders, Ang Lee, Cuarón and Iñárritu.) I don’t know your mom, but she might like this. With Christian McKay, Janel Moloney, Dana Ivey, Dick Gregory. 112m. (Ray Pride)
“The Leisure Seeker” opens Friday, March 9 at River East and Landmark Century.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.